A language lover understands the frustrations that other language lovers face. Which of these situations haven’t you faced?
1. Someone asks, “Who wants to read about languages anyway?”
Look at them and ask, “How did we just communicate?”
Then walk away before they say something snide like, “No one wants to read a website about languages.”
“Oh, really? How many visitors have come to your site? Oh, that’s right. You don’t have one.”
Snark is always allowed in this situation.
2. People seem to think you’re strange because you care about comma splices.
They either say it or send off the vibe that comma splices, subject verb agreement, and whether the Oxford Comma is necessary are unnecessary. Don’t worry—they will feel differently once a potential employer spots the mistakes.
Try not to send off the vibe that they should have paid more attention in English class.
3. You get criticized for correcting other people’s grammar mistakes.
What are you supposed to do when someone butchers the language? As language lovers, it’s not always easy for us to come across like a Grammar Nazi when pointing out that “there’s twelve wine bottles” should be “there’re twelve wine bottles.”
It helps if you can come across as a grammar nerd, but some people don’t cotton to correction, no matter how subtle.
4. You get criticized for not pointing out other people’s mistakes.
Sometimes you can’t win. Need I say more?
5. Tracing the etymology of a word causes you to lose track of the time.
The term “etymology” comes from the Greek word etumos, which means “truth.” The study of a word’s “real meaning” was known as etumologia. This became “etymology” via the Old French ethimologie.
A language nerd can easily go down rabbit holes. For example, the word etumos shows up in a marketing company, Etumos. Somehow this sends you down a tunnel at Wiktionary ἔτυμον. That leads to a list of Etumos’s descendants:
- English: etymon
- French: étymon
- Latin: etymon
- Italian: etimo
And so on.
(Oh, by the way, I found 200 pages of ancient Greek 3-syllable words!)
Language lovers–you know what it’s like.
6. If you speak another language, they ask you to say something.
German is my first language (Sprechen sie Deutsch). Often when a person learns I still speak it, they want me to say something in German. If I give in, it’s something benign like, “How are you?” and “Today is Wednesday.”
I would like to say something more profane, but I left when I was a little kid and never learned all those words. And what if they know some German cuss words? Aren’t those the first words one learns?
Maybe I should have a talk with my parents about an incomplete education.
7. Learning languages is a waste of time because everyone speaks English.
According to Berlitz’s article “The Most Spoken Languages in the World,” English comes in first in only one measure: the total number of speakers, which is 1.4 billion. Mandarin has 1.1 billion speakers, with 929 million of those being first language speakers. Only 380 of the 1.4 billion English speakers are native speakers.
Approximately 602 million people speak Hindi, and 548 million speak Spanish. Add Mandarin, Hindi, and Spanish, and a combination of 2.2 billion people speak languages beside English.
Yes, English is the international language for business, technology, and tourism. But worldwide, only 25% of internet users communicate in English. If you want to up that to 1 in 3, add Spanish to your arsenal. Learn Chinese, and you can understand nearly half of the internet.
As a fellow language lover, what have I left out? Let me know in the comments.
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3 thoughts on “7 Things Language Lovers Will Understand”
Number 7 really makes my blood boil. Its arrogant and selfish to expect everyone to conform to you.
It’s an American-centric viewpoint. But Americans are sometimes as arrogant or selfish, so there that.
I think the British are the same. I spent a year studying in France and that attitude from some of my fellow Brits was embarassing